Learnership FAQs

What is a learnership?

A learnership is a work based learning programme that leads to an NQF registered qualification. Learnerships are directly related to an occupation or field of work, for example, electrical engineering, hairdressing or project management.

Learnerships are managed by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). They were introduced by government to help skill learners and to prepare them for the workplace.

Learnership programmes can help you to gain the necessary skills and workplace experience that will open up better employment or self-employment opportunities.

Learnerships are based on legally binding agreement between an employer, a learner and a Training Provider. This agreement is intended to spell out the tasks and duties of the employer, the learner and the Training Provider. It is designed to ensure the quality of the training and to protect the interests of each party.

A learnership requires that a learner enter into a fixed term employment contract with the company whilst studying towards a qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), which is in line with the learnership (the cost of the qualification falls to the Company). Once the qualification is completed, the learnership will also end.

Why are learnerships important?

Learnerships promote access to education and training, as they allow employees to work on their career while also studying for an educational qualification.

SETAs oversee learnerships and ensure that they offer qualifications related to a specific occupation or sector of the economy. All 21 SETAs have developed NQF-aligned programmes that will help you gain recognised qualifications while getting on-the-job experience.

SETAs manage the registration of learnerships in order to meet the skills development needs across the sectors.

How do learnerships work?

Learnerships require employees to complete a theoretical course as well as practical training, which are done at a workplace, in order to graduate. The workplace component of the qualification involves hands-on, practical learning under the guidance of a mentor, while the theoretical component is provided by an education and training provider. Together they form an integrated and comprehensive learning programme.

Tip: The number of credits needed to graduate varies from learnership to learnership, so make sure that you understand the minimum requirements necessary to complete a learnership. Find out from the relevant SETA.

Who is eligible for a learnership?

Learnerships are available for young people who have completed school, college or learning at other training institutions. You must be older than 16 and younger than 35 to be eligible for a learnership.

Unemployed South Africans can only participate in a learnership if there is an employer prepared to provide the required work experience.

Your career path should be influenced by your interests, skills and strengths. The responsibility rests with you to investigate and research the different learnership options. You should find out as much as you can, including information on the criteria and requirements for entering a learnership.

What are the entry requirements?

Different learnerships have different entry requirements. We recommend that you contact us for the full details on the specific requirements for the learnership of your choice.

For many learnerships, the minimum entry requirement is a National Senior Certificate or National Certificate: Vocational, but there may be more specific subject requirements or even skills requirements such as computer literacy.

Will the learner be paid?

There is a specified minimum learner allowance that must be paid to unemployed learnersin a learnership. This is not a salary but covers expenses like travel and meals.

Note: The amount paid as a learner allowance depends on the SETA, type of learnership and the level of qualification. The allowances and conditions are agreed to with each learner before the commencement of the learnership.

How long does it take to complete a learnership?

Learnerships will last as long as it takes to complete the qualification. This means that if the duration of the qualification is two years, then the learnership will last for that period of time.

What does a learner receive on completion?

During the learnership, learners will be required to complete assignments, tasks and practical tests and projects. They will be formally assessed in the classroom and workplace.

If all these assignments are completed successfully, they will be awarded an NQF-registered qualification that is recognised nationally. They will receive a certificate stating the qualification and the area of skill development.

What is required to enter into a learnership?

Learnership Agreement: this is an agreement signed by the employee, the employer, and the education and provider offering the theoretical training component of the learnership. This agreement clearly outlines the rights and responsibilities of all three parties.

Employment Contract: this is a contract between the employee and the employer, which is only valid for the time period of the learnership.

Can a learnership be terminated?

Yes, a learnership can be terminated under certain circumstances.

An employer can terminate the contract of a learnership if:

    • The duration specified in the learnership agreement has expired

    • The employer and learner have agreed in writing to terminate the learnership agreement, or if there is no such agreement, the SETA that registered the agreement approves the termination or

    • The learner is fairly dismissed for a reason related to the learner’s conduct or capacity as an employee

How much does a learnership cost?

Learnerships are often funded by a relevant SETA. You can apply for funding through SETA when they have discretionary grants available. Since the cost of learnerships varies across SETAs and types/levels of qualifications, you should contact us more information.

The company can also pay for a learnership and benefit from the tax incentives from SARS.



Adult Basic Education and Training


A process of gathering evidence and making judgements on a learner's competence against a registered Unit Standard

Assessment Guide

A document describing what will be assessed and what evidence needs to be provided

Assessment Plan

A document used to plan out assessments

Assessment Process

Incorporates all activities that form part of the assessment

Assessment System

Outlines policies, procedures and implementation


Basic Conditions of Employment Act


Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration


A training method in which an experienced individual guides the learner towards acquiring specific skills


Learners are deemed competent when they meet the outcomes of the Unit Standard


Department of Labour


Employment Equity Act


Employment and Skills Development Agency


Education and Training Development Practitioner


Education and Training Quality Assurance

Formative Assessment

Assessments that take place during the training


Human Resource Development


Human Resources Development Strategy


Investors in People


International Labour Organisation


A work-based approach to gaining qualifications, contains both practical and theoretical work


Labour Relations Act


Learnership Support Service


Labour Market Skills Development Programme


Serves as teacher, coach, sponsor and sounding-board for learner


Memorandum of Agreement


A process of review that confirms that the processes followed were valid, reliable, fair and consistent


National Qualifications Framework


National Skills Fund


National Skills Authority


National Standards Body


National Skills Development Strategy


Not Yet Competent


Outcomes Based Education


Outcomes Based Education and Training


Promotion of Access to Information Act


Public Finance Management Act


Quality Management System

Quality System Audits

Audits conducted by SETA to ensure training providers and employers are providing service of an acceptable level


Reconstruction and Development Programme


Recognition of Prior Learning


South African Qualifications Authority


South African Revenue Service


Skills Development Act


Skills Development Facilitator


Skills Development Levies Act


Skills Development Planning Unit (DoL)


Sector Education and Training Authority


Standards Generating Body


Industry Code


Small Medium Enterprise


Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise


Standard Occupational Category


Service Provider


Sector Skills Plan


Workplace Skills Plan


Workplace Skills Plan Implementation Grant


Workplace Skills Plan Implementation Report


Workplace Skills Plan After Training Report